Thursday, June 29, 2017

Garden Project of 2017 - The Problem


I'm back from the Capital Region Fling and it was amazing - as I knew it would be.  The gardens are always wonderful but what really makes this event special (yes, I know I keep saying this, but it bears repeating) are the people - what an incredible bunch they are!

2017 Garden Bloggers Fling -Capital Region
Photo Credit:   Wendy Niemi Kremer
Once back home I was, as you would expect, faced with mountains of laundry to do and an equally daunting meadow of weeds to pull.  The good news is that I also found quite a few harvestable goodies, including snow and snap peas (finally!).  With our cool spring, these were a long time coming.


Sugar Snaps

This post, however, is not about the Fling or the current state of the veg in my garden but rather, it's about a new garden project that I eluded to earlier this month.

2017 was not supposed to be a year of projects – in fact, my plan was simply to continue working on the existing ornamental/veg areas and perhaps start to clear the mess of invasives in the hilltop wooded area.  After several years of vegetable garden expansion, doing a bit less work and a bit more relaxing in the garden was the main objective.

In 2016, the big project was installing drip irrigation in all the beds,
pictured here in one of the hilltop beds

Then, my husband put a bug in my ear.  Last fall, he mentioned that he wasn’t thrilled with Area #2, which is right beside the pool (this being his "thing").  He's not a plant or garden guy and couldn’t tell a hosta from a fern, but what he does know is what he doesn’t like – specifically, the chicken wire around the beds.

Chicken wire and u-posts - a necessary evil

I’m the first to admit that chicken wire isn’t exactly attractive but, unfortunately, our bunny population makes fencing a necessity when it comes to the vegetable beds.  In our area, we are sometimes lulled into a false sense of security since bunny issues are a hit or miss proposition.  My neighbour went a couple of years without any issues, but last year, practically every seedling in her raised beds was mowed down.  All it takes is one bunny to find some tasty nibbles in a bed, then the whole family comes over to enjoy the buffet.

Don't let that cute, innocent look deceive you...
if only they enjoyed munching on bindweed as much as my veg!

Of course, my husband didn’t tell me that he had a problem with Area #2 until AFTER I’d finished installing the drip irrigation in that section.  Also, the beds are only a couple of years old, so they are nowhere near the end of their useful life.  After all the work building, filling, mulching and installing drip, I’m not very open to removing or even relocating them.

Area #2
The pool fence is just out of range, to the right of the beds

One solution would be to conceal the fencing with perennials/shrubs but that’s not an option as I need full access all the way around the beds.  The mulched path between the side of the bed and the gate is only 3' wide.  Any plantings would end up blocking either the path or pool entrance.

Full access is needed to the gate that is on the far left of the photo,
which means that hiding the fencing with shrubs or perennials is not an option

Since his main beef isn’t with the beds themselves but with the fencing, we came up with a solution where we both get what we want.  The fence will come down but the beds will remain and become cutting flower beds.  Have I mentioned how I’ve always wanted to have dedicated cutting flower beds?

The beds are 12" high so I will need some sort of protection for an additional 12" or so - perhaps a panel that I can slip down the side of the bed - as bunnies can also do a number on ornamentals, as is evidenced by my lack of zinnias this year.  However, since I don't have to worry about getting in there and harvesting or doing succession plantings, I can put something up in the spring and leave it until the fall, using ornamentals along the perimeter as camouflage.

Using these beds for flowers means that I would have to build replacement veg beds elsewhere.  And there it was...the very excuse that I needed to expand Area #1.  Thank you, honey :)

Area #1 photo taken a few years ago

You may be asking why I didn’t expand Area #1 to begin with, especially as it's perfectly situated near the house.  Why have a completely separate area that's further away on the opposite side of the yard for only 4 beds?  It all boiled down to how our property is laid out.

We live on a bend in the road and our lot is pie shaped, with the larger part of the "pie" running across the front.  We do have a large, flat expanse in the middle of the backyard but this area is where the septic leach field is located, which means that it needs to remain grass.

Area #1 is on the west side of backyard, in between the edge of the septic field (east side) and property line (west side).  On the south end there are a series of sheds that we need access to so we can't build in front of them.  On the north end, however, there is plenty of room to expand between the house and the property line, going towards the street.
 
Not exactly a professional image, but this Google maps screenshot illustrates the situation much more clearly than I could ever explain in words:

The house is on the right and the current Area #1 is roughly outlined in red

The blue line in the photo represents the property line and you can see the neighbours driveway on the left side of the image.  Our house is on an angle so the distance between the house and property line ranges from 50-60' - more than enough room to add a few (or more!) beds plus some ornamental borders to hide the chicken wire fencing.

It's the perfect spot except for two glaring issues:  (1) two mature 25' spruce trees are smack in the middle of where the expansion would be and (2) lack of privacy from the street and neighbours driveway.

Up next....our solution.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

14 comments:

  1. They do say that a garden is never finished. How exciting to have a new project, I kept saying I'd like a cut flower bed when I had the allotment but it's something I never got round to. I'm looking forward to seeing which plants you choose. Glad you enjoyed the fling and looking forward to hearing more about that too.

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    1. That's true - gardens are always evolving as are the gardeners! I'm quite excited about the cutting flower bed - it was always in the long term plan, but I'm thrilled that it will be a reality a lot sooner than I thought. Now if I could only figure out how to squeeze a greenhouse into the short range plan, I would be all set :)

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  2. I guess we all learn to live with the problems we have, don't we! Making moree beds does sound like a lot of work though! When you are done it will be really nice! Nancy

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    1. It is a lot of work, but I'm very much looking forward to the result. I'm sure in a couple of years, I'll look back and say "that was worth it" - hopefully!

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  3. Eager to see what you think of next. Nice of your husband to provide you with an excuse to expand your beds.

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    1. It was nice, wasn't it - of course, I played it really cool..."ugh - now I HAVE to build new beds elsewhere...sigh" ;)

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  4. I'll look forward to reading about/seeing your solution! Gosh, I sure can relate to everything you said about rabbits. Hit or miss is right. Every year is different. And you really can't take a chance. Good luck!

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    1. Recently, I saw THREE(!) in my garden at one time and they keep getting into the veg areas - very frustrating!

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  5. Trust me, there will always be a garden project to be done...

    Can't wait to see what the solution is!

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    1. It seems that way, doesn't it? I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew this time though as I'm rather stressed about all the work that needs to get done - you would think I would know better by now!

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  6. Wow, a cutting garden! Envy alert. Hope it's everything you wish for, Margaret.

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    1. Thanks Helen - I'm excited even though I likely won't be enjoying the transition for another year or so.

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  7. Landscape design is always a challenge, but fun. The beds on my property have developed by evolution over a number of years, because it took time to see where plantings should go. I don't think beds that are a little far are so much of a problem, as long as you can get water to them. They can grow crops that don't need much maintenance, or are only harvested once or infrequently. My leach field has only grass, but I built a flower bed over the two tanks, with groundcover directly over the tanks and small perennials around the edges of the tanks, to hide the blue plastic bulb over one of the tanks. Good luck. What's summertime without an outdoor project?

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    1. It is a challenge but so rewarding! I do sometimes hesitate for fear of making a mistake, but then I remind myself - what's the worst that can happen? I may have to move/redo certain things, but that's part of the fun - finding out what works and what doesn't. The leach field is sore spot but the peace and tranquility of living in the country is more than worth it, as I'm sure you'll agree :)

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